Building the Best Pokémon Team (Part 19)

Building the Best Pokémon Team (Part 19)

Never mind their Switch remakes, the release dates of the original Pokémon Diamond and Pearl definitely makes a lot of us feel old. Perhaps it’s because the DS they were released on finally had a goddam backlight, so gamers too tight to shell out for a GBA SP could play at nighttime. But the Gen 4 games seemed so new and modern at the time, who would have ever thought they’d be several Generations ago now?

We’ve already gone through the usual staples – the starters, the common bird, the rodent. But with the likes of Infernape, Staraptor and Bidoof, Generation 4 has worked wonders so far. It’s after this point that each Generation strays away from the template and goes off to do its own thing, like an enfant terrible who’s just discovered tattoos and piercings. What kind of zoomer designs will Gen 4 come up with?

416. Vespiquen

We’re constantly “bee”ing told that bees are dying out and this will end the whole world or something. Every sympathy, but you can kind of see why – there are a bazillion Combees out there, but only the rare females out there will actually be abe to make the evolution to Queen Bee Vespiquen. Remember that queen bees can choose their offpsring’s gender in real life, just like humans can these days. So why can’t she control her Combees and have them make the sacrifice and beomce heiresses? After all, if there’s no queen to serve, then why would the simp Combees even bother living? Extinct animals might try to pipe up here and blame humans for everything, but sometimes they only have themselves to blame. Why didn’t the dodo adapt? Nature has selected you. And if the bees keep dying, I suppose then that nature has selected us. I suppose I better add a note about Vespiquen’s combat ability amidst this rambling rant, so I’ll just say that again, you’d be crazy to seriously use a bug in a Pokémon battle. Although getting stung by a massive bee is never nice, so you might keep a Vespiquen on hand to roll out against your worst enemies.

417. Pachirisu

Another contemptible Pika clone. While I’m aware that you could put the name of any Pokémon into Google, even the bag of rubbish one, and see beanies and fanart of them, let’s be honest – Pachirisu, with its unwieldy name, its obviously subpar battle performance and its hateful little face, never adorned any T-shirts, never fronted any films, never graced any officially licensed Pokémon fridge magnets. I imagine there was at least one episode of the anime where they put it front and centre, in an attempt to lure little girls and queer boys further into Pokémon, but that’s it. You may think I’m cynical, but I ain’t as cynical as whoever designed this. Remove this thing from of my sight.

419. Floatzel

Of course, the weasel gets a raw deal. For some reason, it’s considered undesirable or risible whenever somebody wants to duck responsibility and pursue a life at their own leisure instead. Why call that weaselling out of something? I’d call it fair dinkum, mate. It’s why I do have a slightly begrudging admiration for Floatzel here, but there’s only one problem – whatever Floatzel does, Bibarel and more to the point little Bidoof have already done it better. You wouldn’t catch them weaselling out of building the dam, would you? I know it’s something I’d do, were I a beaver.

421. Cherrim

I hate to say it, but Cherrim is a lot like me. You see, when I go for a long time without a haircut, it begins to look ridiculous. I’d much rather if it looked unkempt and gave me a slightly mad appearance, but instead my hair just gets big, Marge Simpson style. It actually makes me retreat into a bouffant shell. When I do finally get that haircut though, I become the most confident guy in the world. That’s similar to Cherrim, who switches between being shy and being charismatic as anything. Cute face too, wouldn’t you say? Both Cherrim and myself? The cherry on top, as it were, is that Cherrim is useless at fighting, just like me.

423. Gastrodon

Every contender reaches the end eventually, no matter how good their service was. Such is the case for Gastrodon, who once found a place on world class trainer Cynthia’s team, before being swapped out and left to be forgotten. Gastrodon was born too late, a Renaissance slug in a Victorian world, as it was meant to be a Generation III Pokémon – although I doubt it would have stood out much among the several billion other Water types there. What does make Gasty stand out is its colour variations – depending on where exactly you nab it in Sinnoh, you can have it with a blue belly or a pink belly. You’ll scream blue murder until you’re pink in the face if you ever trod on Gastrodon barefooted, but otherwise, when the best trainer in the land dispenses with this thing’s services, then it would probably behoove (begoove) you to follow suit.

424. Ambipom

It takes a lot of hard work to make a tiny wee monkey look not so cute, but somehow they did it with Ambipom. Wee Aipom had the look and demeanour of an imposih little messer, a Pokémon who would hide your keys and only give them back when it felt like it, or the old classic gag of tapping you on the shoulder with its weird outstretched tail hand before walking around to the other. That’s always a great one, and routines like that coupled with Aipom’s cheeky smile meant he could always get away with it, you could never be angry with him for long. With Ambipom though, it’s no longer cute but rather creepy, the type of behaviour that has everyone cringing slightly, wishing it would just stop and not knowing where to look when he stretches out his long feelers. You get the impression that Ambipom isn’t someone to be left alone with, or is trying too hard to be down with the kids, a bit like the dad who perves on his teenage daughter’s friends. Even its odd position in the National Pokedex, away from all the other cross-generation evolutions, adds to its creepiness. And of course, more to the point, you would never willingly use this thing – or its son – in battle.

426. Drifblim

I do like Drifblim, for his unique design, interesting typing, he can take a lot more hits than other famous balloons like, say, the Hindenberg. And his cry sounds like a fat human metronome falling into a hole. However, I can’t actually admit to liking Drifblim or its wee balloon pre-evolution because these Pokémon specialise in preying on children, taking their hand and leading them away to God knows what end. Saying I like this thing would wind me up in some extreme company – I’d be hunted down by social media vigilantes any time I tried to leave my house. Perhaps if you wanted to run a novelty paedo team, you could field Hypno, Drifblim, and I don’t know, Bewear or somebody. Otherwise, for the sake of your liberty, life and reputation, I’d advise you to steer clear of the blimp.

428. Lopunny

I’m very familiar with seeing Lopunny on all kinds of questionable fan arts, as I’m sure you are. No harm in it really – we’re all deviants one way or another. And in modern times we are all well accustomed to stalking blue hell out of photos of girls and guys who we’d someday like to meet and spend some time with. But don’t you often find that when you do meet these people, they never match up to their pictures and the persona you’ve imagined for them? Poor Lopunny never asked to be portrayed by losers and fetishists as any kind of sex bunny. Neither did Lola Bunny, or the Caramel Bunny (Jessica Rabbit doesn’t count). We’ll dispense with the very creepy lewd discourse and examine Lopunny as dispassionately as we can. Well, the stats aren’t great, nor are the moves, nor is the overall battling ability. I suppose rabbits are best identified by how much they breed, but something else about rabbits is that they get annihilated by many, many predators in the natural world. Not very high up on the food chain then, old bunnies. No wonder they sow their oats as quickly as they can.

429. Mismagius

I’m certain this is the first witch Pokémon we’ve had. I always rated Misdreavus, and really it would have still worked fine if it was just a single evolution Pokémon. But now it’s gotten itself a tall witches hat, and it’ll look the part in a Doubles Battle with Litten. Most Ghost Pokémon have that special something, usually explained in the Pokédex, that makes them sinister and absolutely terrifying. For Mismagius, we learn that its tormenting cry gives terrifying nightmares and migraines to those who hear it. Does that mean its own trainer gets affected the worst? I’m not sure, but if you have the bottle then I definitely advise you to use Mismagius in battle. A little psychological warfare never hurt anyone, right?

430. Honchkrow

I don’t even know what “honch” means. I do know “hench”, and further “henchman”, which Honchkrow won’t be in short supply of. Seriously, did you ever think they’d eventually do a mafioso Pokémon? Team Rocket should forget about Persians and talking Meowths and get a few of these badboys instead. It evolves from Murkrow, which was very much the little street urchin, you know, a bit of drugrunning for a few hundred Pokédollars when he was in crow school and he thought he was tasty. But I love this thing, Honchkrow is like the wise guy who doesn’t get whacked and makes it right to the top. Although his new panama hat makes him look so obviously gangster that it’s surprising a De Niro-type character hasn’t had an ice pick put through his neck. Using Honchkrow in battle will make your enemies become his enemies – and then they would fear you.

432. Purugly

Well, they weren’t joking with that name. A cat can be ugly, usually from being feral and quite understandably getting into dozens of fights that turn quite hairy in every sense of the word. Or a cat can be fat, usually if it’s a bit too well looked after at home – big treats morning, noon and night. But I don’t see hiow a cat could be both, unless it was a home cat that ran headlong into a hard drywall one day, squashed its face irrepably and is now spurning all exercise for life. I’m not sure which hit Purugly harder, the ugly stick or the fat stick, but I think you should avoid using her in battle. People will definitely start to talk, and mark you down as some sort of animal abuser. You could of course try Purugly if you’re desperate – because a desperate cat is very much a vicious cat, and a sight to behold – but I reckon it’s far more humane to sit Purugly out and let it live the last of its days stressfree, a state of being which all home cats have mastered.

433. Chingling

I have an inkling that a thing like Chingling doesn’t get much liking, especially among those with a hankering for collecting. This is exactly the type of pesky thing that is missing from your collection, a teeny tiny hole in your display cabinet that is magnified and made to look enormous, and best of luck filling it because that last stamp or coin or video game or nudey magazine is always rare as hell, and costs an absolute fortune. Nobody had a Chimecho in Gen 3, and even less than nobody had a Chingling in Gen 4 either, or even know that it was all about. This really is just a waste of a Dex slot, a most obscure baby. But the trouble is you’ll need this windy baby for a full set, or you’ll be kept awake at night agaonising over the fact that Clive and Malcolm, with their shit-eating smiles and smug, self-satisfied faces, have a full collection and you don’t. Get it and forget it. And doubly forget it if you ever decide to take Chingling into battle.

435. Skuntank

You’re going to have to be standing behind this thing in battle, which won’t be fun and games when it gets whacked by a Hyper Beam, becomes stressed out and starts emitting its bumstink all over the place. You could put up with a dreadful smell if it was an outstanding performer – this is how French girls have become so lauded – but Skuntank doesn’t earn its battling keep, I’m afraid. Still, it had to have some reason for existing, and Game Freak hit upon it beautifully: its cry sounds like a collection of the best farts you’ve ever done – low rumbles, squeakers, machine gun parps, they’re all there. You have to wonder how they recorded it. Better than that, Game Freak really knew what they were doing in Gen 4 by allowing you to use the stylus to remix Pokémon cries. I literally could not imagine how many hours and days I would have spent doing that inthe late 90s, laughing all the while. I didn’t think electronic fart noises would be a niche for any Pokémon to fill, but Skuntank’s gone and filled it.

To Be Continued!

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